Arthur Wellesley Peel, 1st Viscount Peel PC

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About Arthur Wellesley Peel, 1st Viscount Peel PC,_1st_Viscount_Peel

Arthur Wellesley Peel, 1st Viscount Peel PC (3 August 1829 – 24 October 1912), was a British Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1865 to 1895. He was Speaker of the House of Commons from 1884 until 1895 when he was raised to the peerage.

Background and education

Peel was the youngest son of the Conservative Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel by his wife Julia, daughter of General Sir John Floyd, 1st Baronet, and was named after Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford.

Political career

Peel was elected Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for Warwick in the 1865 general election and held the seat until 1885 when it was replaced under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885.[2] From 1868 to 1873 he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Poor Law Board, and then became Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. In 1873–1874 he was patronage secretary to the Treasury, and in 1880 he became Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs in the second Gladstone government. On the retirement of Sir Henry Brand in 1884, Peel was elected Speaker of the House of Commons.

In the 1885 general election, Peel was elected for Warwick and Leamington. Throughout his career as Speaker, the Encyclopædia Britannica says, "he exhibited conspicuous impartiality, combined with a perfect knowledge of the traditions, usages and forms of the House, soundness of judgment, and readiness of decision upon all occasions." Though now officially impartial, Peel left the Liberal Party over the issue of Home Rule and became a Liberal Unionist. Peel was also an important ally of Charles Bradlaugh in Bradlaugh's campaigns to have the oath of allegiance changed to permit non-Christians, agnostics and atheists to serve in the House of Commons.

Peel retired at the 1895 general election and was created Viscount Peel, of Sandy in the County of Bedford. In 1896 he was chairman of a Royal Commission into the licensing laws. The Peel Report recommended that the number of licensed houses should be greatly reduced. This report was a valuable weapon in the hands of reformers.


Peel married Adelaide, daughter of William Stratford Dugdale, in 1862. She died in December 1890. Lord Peel remained a widower until his death in October 1912, aged 83. They had seven children. He was succeeded by his eldest son William Wellesley Peel, who was created Earl Peel in 1929. Peel's second son the Hon. Arthur George Villiers Peel was also a politician and author. Peel's third son the Hon. Sidney Peel was also a politician and was created a Baronet in 1936.